Workers stage sit-in over money owed to them

Workers at Republic Windows and Doors today say they are not leaving the plant until they get "what is rightfully theirs."

Workers arrived early this morning to stage a sit-in, refusing to leave until they receive pay that is mandated by federal law.

Company officials announced earlier this week they were unable to get $5 million in financing from the Bank of America, money the company needs to stay open.

The federal Workers Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act requires the company either announce its closing 60 days in advance or pay workers 60 days’ pay and for remaining vacation time in the wake of an immediate closing.

At 11:15 a.m. today, workers say they will stay at the plant until they get their money.

"We aren't animals," says Apolinar Cabrera, a 17-year employee of Republic Windows. He is also a husband and father of two with another baby on the way. "We're human beings and we deserve to be treated like human beings."

A spokesman for Bank of America Midwest did not return a call seeking comment. The workers are represented by the United Electrical Workers Union, and union representatives say they are trying to talk to bank officials, too.

Union officials say the company’s $5 million line of credit was originally opened with LaSalle Bank, which was bought out by Bank of America last year. Bank of America received $25 billion in federal bailout cash, which Republic workers say obliges it to support the company.

"This is just an example of the enormous failure of the bank bailout," says Leah Fried, an organizer for the United Electrical workers union, representing the workers.

Officials at Republic, a family-owned window manufacturer on Goose Island since 1965, say the company is the victim of the drastic downturn in the housing construction market. The company formerly pulled in $4 million per month in revenue, and now earns $2.9 million, officials have said.

Some Republic jobs pay $14 an hour and include health and retirement benefits, workers say.

Some Republic jobs pay $14 an hour and include health and retirement benefits, workers say.

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